DAN JAMES TO LEEDS: CAN BIELSA BRING THE BEST OUT OF THE WELSH WINGER?
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Dan James’ move from Manchester United to Leeds feels like many years in the making - the ex Swansea man putting pen to paper on a move to Leeds all the way back in 2019, before the deal fell through at the last minute to the annoyance of the Welsh winger.
Joining Manchester United in the same year, and having a mixed time in a Manchester United shirt, the time feels right for James to return to Elland Road with a move secured finally.
Born in Yorkshire, not too far from Elland Road, James seems to have finally found a home after struggling with the Red Devils.
Initially impressing at Swansea after breaking through in the Hull youth set-up, James’ main standout quality remains his ability to take on a defender with his sheer pace and trickery fooling many a full-back.
Bielsa has been a vocal admirer of Dan James’ ability, no surprise to see him go back in for the Welsh international to complement Leeds’ already vibrant attack in Patrick Bamford and Raphinha.
The move allows for Marcelo to move Raphinha more centrally, Dan James patrolling the wing to make Leeds’ play even more expansive and forward-thinking. After breaking onto the scene with Swansea, why did Dan James’ move to Manchester United not entirely work out?
Playing alongside the likes of Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford means the spotlight has never been firmly on Dan James, going from Swansea’s breakthrough talent to a bit-piece in contrast to Manchester United’s attacking arsenal.
As much as Dan James’ ability to burst forward can’t be critiqued, his end product at times left a lot to be desired in a Manchester United shirt.
Turned into a bit of a scapegoat by The Red Devils’ supporters, it’s easy to forget that Dan is still only 23 and an extremely exciting raw talent is there for all to see.
As has been seen with the likes of Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips, both benefiting with the Bielsa arm around the shoulder, Bielsa’s managerial nous can really develop your game. At Old Trafford, you already have that talent.
With Bielsa and Leeds United, it’s more about project building. A half century of appearances for one of the biggest clubs in the country proved to be a great learning curve for James, Leeds the new task for Dan.
Capped by Wales due to a family connection, James also featured in the delayed Euros tournament for Rob Page’s national side - contributing in all of Wales’ matches at the tournament, entrusted with the pressures of the big stage.
After comical delays intervened, and a stop-start time in Manchester, I would expect Dan James to hit the ground running.
Some unsavoury chants were dished out to James in the opening clash between the Red Devils and Bielsa’s men, but I imagine the Leeds’ fans will now change their tune.
With Helder Costa loaned out, and Bielsa making Dan his statement deadline day signing, expect to see the best from the speedy Welsh winger in a white shirt this season.